Updated 08 Feb 24

Linking against preCICE requires to pass two set of flags to two programs. The compiler requires information on where to find the preCICE headers. The linker requires the name of the library as well as its location.


This is the preferred method of linking to preCICE. preCICE provides a precice-Config file which contains all required information to the build system.

Linking to preCICE from a CMake project is simple. Use find_package(precice) and link precice::precice to your target:

find_package(precice REQUIRED CONFIG)

add_executable(myTarget main.cpp)
target_link_libraries(myTarget PRIVATE precice::precice)

This works out-of-the-box if you installed preCICE from provided packages or manually to /usr/local. In case preCICE was installed to another directory, CMake needs to know which directory to look into.

The simplest solution is to explicitly pass the location of the config file to CMake using -Dprecice_DIR=<prefix>/lib/cmake/precice. This directory can also point to the build directory of preCICE. This allows to use preCICE without explicitly installing it.

An alternative is to tell CMake to consider an additional install prefix by passing the following to CMake -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=<prefix>.


Linking to preCICE from a GNU Autotools project is similarly simple. Just use the following in your configure.ac file:

PKG_CHECK_MODULES(preCICE, libprecice)

This will extract the CFLAGS and LIBS into preCICE_CFLAGS and preCICE_LIBS, which you can then use in your Makefile.am as:

my_cxx_flags += @preCICE_CFLAGS@
my_ldadd += @preCICE_LIBS@

Make and scripts in general

The recommended way to link preCICE to another project is by embedding pkg-config commands into a building script/Makefile to extract the necessary flags from the generated liprecice.pc file.

Use the following two commands to fetch necessary flags:

pkg-config --cflags libprecice
pkg-config --libs   libprecice

These two commands should return (if the paths are not already known by the system):

-L/path/to/lib -lprecice

You can use backticks to evaluate a command and use its result in your shell script, for example:

CFLAGS = `pkg-config --cflags libprecice`

The syntax to do the same in a Makefile is:

CFLAGS = $(shell pkg-config --cflags libprecice)

If you built preCICE and installed it into a custom prefix, e.g. ~/software/, you need to set the following environment variable first:

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH="~/software/lib/pkgconfig"

Now you can use pkg-config to extract the necessary flags.


precice.hpp cannot be found

There are two reasons you may be getting this error:

  • pkg-config could not find a libprecice.pc file (keep reading)
  • you are including the file as SolverInterface.hpp and not as precice/SolverInterface.hpp

preciceC.h cannot be found

If you are using the C bindings, please note that they are now installed in [prefix]/include/precice/, alongside the C++ headers. If your code includes e.g. precice/bindings/c/SolverInterfaceC.h, please update this to precice/SolverInterfaceC.h.

libprecice cannot be found (during building)

If you installed preCICE in a path not known by your compiler/linker, pkg-config will try to locate the file libprecice.pc and extract the necessary information. However, pkg-config only looks in specific places (usually in /usr/lib/pkgconfig, but not e.g. in /usr/local/lib/pkgconfig). Before building, you need to set the path where pkg-config can find this file, e.g. with:

PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/path/to/lib/pkgconfig [make or anything else]

libprecice cannot be found (at runtime)

If you built preCICE (as a shared library) in a non-standard path, pkg-config only helps during building. At runtime, libprecice will not be discoverable, unless you e.g. include this path in your LD_LIBRARY_PATH.

Depending on the configuration of ld it might look by default into /usr/local/lib or not. This might lead to linking problems and can be either solved by adding /usr/local/lib to the LD_LIBRARY_PATH or changing the configuration of ld.

precice/Version.h cannot be found

Version 2.5 introduces the precice/Version.h header and includes it by default in precice.hpp and preciceC.h. This file is generated during the preCICE build and not part of the sources.

If you are using preCICE directly from the build directory without the help of pkg-config nor CMake, then you are likely missing an include-directory. Prefer to use pkg-config or CMake as these directories may change without further notice. Alternatively, add <build-directory>/src/ to your include-directories.